Branding a company under the guise of masculinity isn’t something that’s always well-received in today’s world, but Gillette is connecting the sport of soccer with its shaving accessories products to communicate positive interpretations of the meaning of masculinity. The campaign, Made Of What Matters, is the first featuring the company’s new global ambassador, Raheem Shaquille Sterling (pictured, right), a professional soccer player for Manchester City, a soccer club in England that competes in the Premier League. The campaign was first announced in a commercial played during the Premier League match on February 9, between Manchester City and the West Ham United, and pointed to the values that inspire Sterling’s advocacy and involvement in sports—in addition to being a winger and attacking midfielder, Sterling actively speaks out on inequalities present both on and off the turf, and his encounters with racism, and serves as a role model in this campaign.

The work with Sterling follows suit to an earlier effort made by Gillette in January 2019, when the company launched The Best Men Can Be, a campaign in response to the #MeToo movement that encouraged men to hold each other accountable by taking action if they witness wrongdoing. This campaign did not take off with applause, but faced extensive criticism, and was even referred to as a “disaster” by some, according to Marketing Week, and called a “lesson in fake purpose.” Gillette persevered, and noted that much of this criticism was from two alternative-right groups that created bots to share thousands of adverse comments on the video after its release. The backlash escalated so much that Gillette even considered taking the video down, but after pushing forward—and holding crisis meetings every hour—the ad received 110 million views and 18 billion media impressions. And by June of 2019, six months after the campaign’s launch, Gillette reported that 65 percent of its customers were more likely to purchase Gillette products, a figure that was even higher among women (84 percent) and men (76 percent) under 35. 

Additionally, Gillette also began a partnership with Football Beyond Borders (FBB), an educational nonprofit in the UK dedicated to using soccer to help disadvantaged youth. Through this relationship, Gillette will help support a number of FBB’s programs by helping to increase investments to grow the number of qualified instructors who head FBB’s programs in schools, among other tasks. 


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.